Regular readers of TTW will be aware that I am a big fan of Lucy Knisley’s graphic novels and I am therefore slowly making my way through them. Relish and French Milk were utter delights so I was really looking forward to this illustrated travelogue about exploring Europe and developing into adulthood.
Similar to French Milk, Lucy is writing and illustrating a moment in her life when she’s exploring new places and meeting new people on an extended tour of Europe, facilitated by a Swedish comic convention. It is a tad self-involved but that’s because it’s a glimpse into Lucy’s world and what is happening to her in that moment in time – if you don’t like diaries, this travelogue is not for you.
Lucy’s way of writing and illustrating is fresh and chatty. I don’t get the feeling she writes for any audience in particular but rather writes for herself which creates a graceful ease to her tone and imagery. It sometimes feels a privilege to have been given such an honest and raw insight into a difficult and confusing time.
The only criticism I would level at the book is that everything felt a bit rushed. I would have preferred a longer book with greater pauses in the narrative, one that explored the people and places visited in more depth. I get the feeling that if Lucy had just pulled back the curtain a little more, An Age of License would have had more complexity and would have emphasised the personal journey over and above the depiction of a European trip. That being said…
The concept behind the title is revealed later on in the book but I absolutely loved it. A man in France tells Lucy that your twenties herald ‘the age of license’ in your life – a fluid time when you have license to try new things, make mistakes and generally find who you are and what you want to be and/or do and it’s a sentiment I adore. I am currently within my age of license and sometimes let the fear take hold, which prevents me from being as gung-ho as I probably should! From this book I will take with me the idea that I should be making bolder decisions and acting with more daring because if I can’t in the Age Of License, when will I?!